XII National Meeting and IV Latin-American Congress of Universities for Older Adults – Alicante


From 27th to 30th June 2011, the IV Latin-American Congress of Universities for Older Adults is taking place in Alicante. The Congress will be multicultural and interdisciplinar, with the incorporation of diverse perspectives of the Universities, responsible Institutions of the educational, social and economic policies involved in this area, as well as researchers of the field of education sciences, gerontology, ageing sociology, and of the social sciences and humanities that could provide researches, results, and appropriate suggestions to the Congress' questions.

Link to the Congress website: http: // www.aepumayores.org/ciuumm2011


1. The university programmes for older adults have contributed in a decisive way to democratise knowledge, to promote active ageing and to improve personal autonomy, the levels of participation and quality of life of the older adults, demanding thus a social and academic, although not professionalizing, recognition of this type of studies.

2. Despite the high level of institutionalisation that has been reached and its efficiency within the management model, the older adults’ presence at the university has been controlled for years from the legal system’s point of view, more by the habit and the general principles of right than by the law, which had a negative influence on their full integration at the university. Nowadays, university training for older adults shows enough social, pedagogical and legal characters of imperativeness, enforceability and generality for being object of urgent legal regulation.

3. The university programmes for older adults should continue working in the already initiated line of harmonising its structure and curricular design, compatible with the existence of high levels of specialisation, and coordinating inter-sectorial actions and inter-ministerial work-groups between the institutions implied in older adults’ training, with the purpose of optimising resources and finding convergent public policies in lifelong training.

4. The great educational dimension, flexibility and adaptation, organisational changes, mobility of students and teaching staff, innovative experiences and implementation of good practices are true identity signs of the university programmes for older adults, which will permit to solve the problem of older adults’ non-visibility in society.

5. The university programmes for older adults contribute, due to their aims and organisational structure, to the creation of an inclusive and intergenerational society for all ages. Experiences have been shown, conceptual tendencies and organisational models have been discussed and results of the programme evaluation and educational actions, showing how the University with its younger and older students of different ages constitutes the suitable framework for intergenerational relations, have been revised.

6. The benefits that intergenerational programmes mean, both for their participants and for the institutions that are the driving force, along with society that takes them in, have been analysed exhaustively. Among these benefits, those related to the promotion of citizenship and active social participation, the improvement of quality of life, self-esteem, physical, psychic and social health of the participants and the eradication of stereotypes should be highlighted. Within the presented studies, it has also been described that both the elderly and the young obtain benefits related to the transmission of values, the acquisition of social and communication skills and the improvement of teaching-learning processes in the view of continuous learning.

7. The university programmes for older adults have enough indicators of a continuous process of organisational and methodological innovation, proven in the whole geocultural area of Europe and Latin-America, which shall contribute to a collaborative learning permitting the acquisition of new personal, intellectual and social competences.

8. In our techno-scientific society, the market of ICT and ageing related products and services, is no longer in the starting phase, when we talk about educational work with older adults at the university. The new educational settings have developed formative possibilities and methodologies where the older adult is the main character of the educational actions, provided that the characteristics and strategies of how a person learns are known. It has been shown that teaching older adults in virtual environments is different in diverse aspects to on-site teaching, and that the tools and good practices should be known if we want to connect with the older adult in his educational project.

9. Different models and experiences of international cooperation in lifelong education, which have been decisive in the advance of the university programmes for older adults and its evolution, have been analysed. The need to study in depth the process of internationalisation of this type of programmes has been shown and therefore it will be necessary to continue with the support of public calls and support programmes in the field of cooperation for being able to establish joint actions.

10. In the Congress, the great advance within the last five years in the development of basic and applied research that came up from the different knowledge areas and the positive impact that the programmes have, both on economic and social aspects, on the management of active ageing by the senior students themselves and on health and quality of life, have been shown.

11. Although we are still distant from achieving a unanimous definition of quality of the university in general, in what refers to the programmes for older adults we can detect advances in the definition of objectives, organisation of cycles, syllabus with the perspectives of age and gender, teaching-learning processes, students, teaching staff, financial resources, relations with society and international dimension. In addition, the active implication of all interest groups of the programmes within quality evaluation has been detected.

12. Despite the advance, there is still a future work programme that shall permit advances in the following fundamental questions:

                a. Intensification of an accreditation model that should be specific for the university programmes for older             adults and contribute decisively to the full university integration.

                b. Incorporation of innovative criteria that are of great importance within university training for older adults.

                c. Enumeration of aspects of excellence in each of the proposed criteria that have been worked on in the different sessions of the 4th Latin-American Congress of University Programmes for Older Adults.

13. Within the field of international cooperation and as one of the main objectives of the Congress, the participants have worked during the Congress on the proposal for creating a Latin-American Network of Universities for Older Adults – RIPUAM that has to be confirmed by the plenary of Latin-American Universities. This network is based on: the first Latin-American Meeting in Sevilla – Spain 2000; and on the following Latin-American Congresses developed in Lima – Peru 2005, Entre Ríos - Argentina 2007, San José – Costa Rica 2009 and Alicante – Spain 2011. RIPUAM presents a model of articulation and implementation of research programmes and projects, extracurricular activities, social action, teaching and production for the promotion and development of lifelong education in accordance with the international guidelines proposed at the 2nd World Assembly on Ageing (Madrid 2002). Its purpose is to promote inclusion, research, participation, exchange and mutual enrichment from a democratic, plural perspective, based on respect for diversity, of the centres and university programmes for older adults. (Paraná, September 2007). The general objective is to create and develop a space for theoretical and methodological reflection about the educational experiences of the universities with older adults in Latin-America and the development of joint actions. The specific aims of RIPUAM are:

 a) To develop permanent on-site or virtual training programmes for teachers working with older adults;

b) To develop joint research in topics related to the network;

c) To promote the incorporation of new university educational programmes to RIPUAM;

d) To create a space for exchanging syllabus, curriculum, methodologies, older adults’ participation and experiences;

e) To organise the Latin-American Congresses of University Programmes for Older Adults each two years in Latin-American venues and countries;

f) To establish a field of permanent communication between the educational experiences of the universities for exchanging publications and disseminating the network activities. The main action fields will be:

                1) Research;

                2) Training, exchange and mobility of students and teaching staff;

                3) Cooperation in educational management;

                4) Cooperation for development and sustainability.

g) On June 27th, there was a meeting for the provisional constitution of the mentioned network at the venue of the Vice-chancellor of the University of Alicante, which was confirmed on June 28th by the AEPUM assembly and on June 30th by the Latin-American universities. For the definitive constitution of RIPUAM, the universities are going to work in the development of regulations and of the necessary conditions for the assumption of agreements by the integrating institutions and the official formalisation of the network.

14. The University of Havanna, Cuba, has applied in front of the Plenary of Latin-American Universities that were participating in CIUUMM 2011, for developing the 5th Latin-American Congress of University Programmes for Older Adults in 2013. This proposal has been confirmed and approved.